People with diabetes are always being told to take good care of their feet, but it is not always understood why this is so important. What is so different or special about the feet of someone with diabetes?
Diabetes can cause different and more serious foot problems. These problems are often the result of changes in circulation and sensation caused by diabetes.
Circulation changes with diabetes:
Diabetes is considered a “small vessel disease” in that capillary walls can become thicker and weaker over time, reducing blood flow. This can affect the small capillaries in the eyes, the kidneys and in the feet. The small capillaries in our feet bring those substances to the surface of our skin that is needed for healing and for fighting off infection. When these small capillaries become thicker and weaker, then any break in the skin of our feet (even a small blister, scrape, cut or crack) can be slower to heal and more prone to infection.
Sensation changes with diabetes:
Fluctuations in blood sugar can “eat away” at the coating on the nerves (called demyelination) in our feet causing diabetic neuropathy. Neuropathy is any change in sensation…increased, decreased, absent or abnormal sensations. Increased sensation is often manifested by burning, shooting, tingling, ice cold or hot feelings in the feet and can make life absolutely miserable. Decreased or absent sensation can make it difficult to tell when something hurts, such as when a toe is rubbing against the shoe, knowing when you have stepped on something, or being able to tell if something is too hot or cold. This makes you much more susceptible to developing sores that slow healing or become infected, or skin ulcerations (an open hole in the skin), with some requiring hospitalization, amputation or months of treatment in a wound care clinic. Some people may even develop a combination of numbness along with terrible burning pain in their feet. Neuropathy can also affect balance and sleep.
Fortunately the risk of infection, ulceration, amputation and other related foot problems can be greatly reduced with good diabetes control and regular diabetic foot care.
If you or someone you care about has diabetes, it is important of have a thorough evaluation by Dr. Silver at the Westwood Foot Clinic in Golden Valley, MN. Dr. Silver can help with any existing foot problem as well as preventative foot care. The Westwood Foot Clinic has many services available for those with diabetes, including:
- Neuropathy treatment: with Neurogenx combined nerve stimulation & nerve blocks
- Correction of foot deformities-often with minimally invasive procedures
- Fitting for shoes and inserts (often covered by your insurance once a year)
- Custom-made prescription foot orthotics and ankle/foot orthotic brace (AFO)
- Compression stockings and diabetic socks
- Circulation testing
- Routine foot care: the non-infected care of corns, nails and calluses
- Special foot creams and many reusable gel pads, cushions and toe protectors
By taking advantage of the many services available at the Westwood Foot Clinic, you can maintain healthy feet and hopefully prevent any disabling foot problems. Remember, you only have one pair of feet and they need to last a lifetime! For an appointment with Dr. Silver at the Westwood Foot Clinic click here or call 763-231-2341. Same and next day appointments are often available.